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Behind The Headlines - Yankees Style

June 24, 2011 - John Whittaker
Because of a wedding and an arcane rule that states the Yankees are not allowed to be on TV when I can watch, I haven't seen a full game in about a week, so we're going to play a little game I call "Behind the Headlines."

I'm going to take a look at the ESPN.com, CNNSI.com and YESNetwork.com headlines for the past two weeks and we'll discuss what they mean.

1. "Nova is super again" - ESPN.com "Girardi: It was AJ's best start of year" - Newsday There are lots of these stories right now, but take note of what those headlines don't say — namely, that the opponent wasn't the Boston Red Sox. Once the Red Sox left town, all of a sudden the Yankees pitching, which looked positively putrid against the Sawx, looks good again. Nova threw eight sterling innings this week against Cincinnati, C.C. Sabathia threw two straight solid outings against the Rangers and Cubs, A.J. Burnett was on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss to Cleveland in which he threw his "best start of the year" and then beat the Cubs, and Freddy Garcia was stellar in beating the Indians and Reds. The only Yankee starter to struggle was Brian Gordon, about whom, frankly, all I needed to know was this — 32-year-old rookie. If he was any good, he'd have been in the major leagues far sooner than this.

Still, I'll refer you back to my last post. When the Yankees aren't playing Boston, their pitching is fine. When Boston comes to town, the Yankees just don't have enough arms. What we've learned is that $200 million buys enough to beat everyone in baseball except for the Boston Red Sox, who are far and away the best team in the league right now even though their pitching staff is held together by duct tape and paper clips.

2. "Yankees bit by injury bug; Jeter, Joba, and Colon to the DL" - Examiner.com

We'll start with Joba. It's a shame he's hurt because he was throwing fairly well most of the time, but he's a loss that should be made up for easily. How easily, you might ask? Well, David Robertson is more than reliable as the eighth-inning reliever, and, frankly, I think Joe Girardi would have made that move on his own sooner or later anyhow.

On to Bartolo Colon — it's unfortunate that he got hurt, but we all knew he was unlikely to make it through the season without taking some time off for margaritas, burritos and chalupas. He hasn't made it through a full season since 2006, and he's been pitching pretty much nonstop since December between his Dominican Winter League season, spring training and the regular season. On the bright side, once his hamstring heals, Bartolo should be good as new, and the break could be good for his arm.

That leads us to ...

3. "Derek Jeter May Be Out Longer Than We Thought." - New York Daily News

I was reading ESPN.com and ran across some interesting comments from Jimmy Rollins, who had a similar calf injury to Jeter's in 2010. He said, "The best advice I can give Derek is, 'You're going to get healed in the offseason.' I don't even think about my calf injury anymore. But all last year? That was No. 1 -- before anything, before I stretched, before I hit, before I looked at who was pitching. It was, 'How's my calf?'"

I'm officially worried now. Jeter will be back this year. He'll play. He'll get his 3,000 hits. But, not only will he not be the Jeter of old, he won't even be as good as the old Jeter that we've seen for the first two months of this season. At the very least, Jeter makes the plays he should make, is a top 5 shortstop in the league even though he's not half the player he was three seasons ago. Now, even when he comes back, the Yankees can look forward to seeing an even more limited player. This sucks.

Last Two Week's Record: 10-3.

Record, Division Standing Through 73 games: 43-30, 0.5 games behind Boston.

WHAT I LIKED THIS WEEK

Robinson Cano started to rebound to the tune of a .409 batting average last week, which is a little more like it. Chalk the last few weeks up to a bit of a slump for Cano, and get ready for the ensuing hot streak.

Brett Gardner has come all the way back from his lousy start, bringing his season average to .286 by hitting ... wait ... you guessed it, .286 last week. With his offense coming back, Gardner's defense has been stellar all season. Now, if only we could do something about his baserunning.

David Robertson continues to get his control issues under control, which is great news since the Yankees bullpen looks like the end of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It's too bad he can't pitch seven days a week, because Luis Ayala is the eighth-inning option on days Robertson is unable to pitch, and that knowledge makes me long for the days of Tom Gordon and Scott Proctor

Alex Rodriguez isn't drilling many home runs, but, right now, it's not needed. He hit ..450 last week, and is up to .296 for the season. Frankly, I don't care much about home runs from A-Rod. He's getting older and the balls he used to send into orbit are line drives to the gap now. I just want to see RBIs from the Yankees clean-up hitter.

Nick Swisher may have hit rock bottom on his season and started his rebound, putting up a .300 week last week with 2 home runs and 7 RBI. His on-base percentage has been good all season, so the batting average and renewed power tell me he's centering the ball well. Slumps come from a guy like Swisher, but his hot streaks are well worth the wait. It'd be great if his hot streak comes during a down period for a few other guys in the lineup, because when he's hot, Swisher can absolutely carry an offense.

WHAT CONCERNS ME

Curtis Granderson is going through a bit of a rough patch. It's hard to say it's a concern, since he has carried the offense for the last 160 games or so. But, last week, he hit only .190 and his average for the year is now down to .278. It's too early to be really concerned, but here's hoping we start seeing the April and May 2011 Curtis Granderson and stop seeing the April, May, June and July 2010 Curtis Granderson.

Russell Martin continues to struggle, hitting .178 last week. With his season batting average sitting at .233, I'm starting to wonder when the Yankees decide to give Jesus Montero a shot. After a "playing far above his head" April, Martin has become about what I expected to see — and, frankly, there are much better options than that in the farm system. Other than having more pop, is there much difference between Martin and Francisco Cervelli?

WHAT'S COMING UP (FOR THE YANKEES): Three game sets with Colorado (a homecoming for Jason Giambi) and Milwaukee.

 
 

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